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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 3:32 pm 
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Here's a link to a complete transcript of the testimony:

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I know that many people see any form of opposition to a war as a betrayal of the people who are fighting that war. Is that what you meant by "slander," or can you point out specific slanders in the testimony?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:11 pm 
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I would very much like to see an answer to that question.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 5:08 pm 
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....we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war,


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We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by our flag, as blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties.


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we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions,


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 6:46 pm 
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The truth remains defense against the charge of slander.

Unfortunately I remember very well the seeping revelation of war crimes during Vietnam, and, as with Abu Grayb, the front page was covered with the faces of the scapegoats.

As for the Geneva convention, there is only one country in the world that has consistently sponsored terrorist campaigns (campaigns designed to terrify civilians into political submission) throughout my lifetime, and that is the good old U.S. of A. If there were one thing I could change about my country before I die, that would be it.

However I might question the assertion that Black soldiers had a higher casualty rate ... I think you challenged me on this once sol, when I stated that Blacks had a higher draft rate, and so I went to a couple Veterans' sites that carry the stats for all the wars and discovered that you were right and I was wrong.

There was certainly a perception during the late 60s that Blacks were the ones fighting the war because of the student deferment (it was an issue within the NAACP whether or not to make this an element of the Civil Rights campaign), but now that the war is over and we can look back at a complete data set, it does not appear that Blacks were sent into combat at a higher rate than Whites, nor at a higher rate than Blacks who fought previous wars. (There are differences but they are not large enough to be labeled non-random.) What happened during Vietnam, largely because of the Civil Rights movement, was that people noticed that there were also Black soldiers and Black heroes, whereas their contribution had been ignored previously. I don't recall the casualty rates by Race but if Black casualties had been significantly higher I think I would have made a mental note of it when I was looking at the data. It seems unlikely that the casualty rates would be higher if the combat rates were about the same.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 7:36 pm 
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In fact the casualty rates were slighly higher for whites because of disproportionate white representation as pilots and junior infantry officers, the billets with the highest casualty rates.



----------------------------

I maintain that what Kerry was 'testifying' to was hearsay, not admissible in any court- and more than that, scuttlebutt, rumour and gossip without substantiation. In a word, slander: and deeply resented by many, many vets who never participated in or witnessed atrocities.

Or do you really believe that the Government was the only side telling fibs back then?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:24 pm 
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Do you mean that the casulty rates for whites were higher than Blacks compared to their percentage in the armed services and combat ......
or compared to their percentages in the general USA population?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:22 pm 
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A somewhat higher percentage of African-Americans were killed in the Vietnam war than their percentage of men of combat age. Because there were so many more white officers, the percentage is considerably higher when considering only enlisted men. The percentage was much higher earlier in the war, but after complaints were made, President Johnson made some changes.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:33 am 
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That's very interesting, Voronwë, but still a little misleading because of the slight impact of student exemptions and National Guard sign-ups on the % of Black draftees. The statistic needed for a fair comparison would be the percentage of Black enlistees who experienced casualties, compared to the percentage of White enlistees who experienced casualties. While it may be true that the officer corp was overwhelmingly White, and therefore casualties among officers will be overwhelmingly White, it is also true that the majority of enlistees were White and not in the officer corps.

I recall that I had a great deal of difficulty teasing out the information I wanted about this ... and it must be more than a year ago now that we were discussing it previous ... because there are clearly several important sources of discrimination here which add up to a very unpleasant picture, but race was impacted, I believe, primarily by its being such a strong determinant of class status. (That dynamic shows in the text about higher rates of Blacks being assigned to combat units because of differing skill levels upon entry.)

In any event, the point was whether Kerry was fair in remarking that Blacks were not "kept free by our flag" and I would be inclined to take exception to looking at it this way. The volunteer military today is dominated by kids from lower economic classes and lower educational status because it is viewed by them as an opportunity for upward mobility and skill attainment. So you do see higher enlistment rates among those who populate these classes, and minorities are definitely over-represented there. This results in their being over-represented among the doughboys as well. This was acutely true during Vietnam because of the student deferments, but it has been generally true in all our wars. Those who entered the military from opportunity-poor backgrounds were more likely to see combat. (About 30% of all military personnel see combat - that percentage has not changed since WWI, iirc.) A comparison might be made for skills levels among teenagers today - if we re-instituted the draft, teens from homes where there are computers would enjoy an advantage in their assignments.

One can say that not all our citizens are kept equally free by our flag, if by that one means that not all our citizens enjoy equal advantages, but looked at from that perspective it is a somewhat trivial observation, and not one that lends itself to racial analysis in simplistic ways.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:11 am 
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I agree, Jn, that that would the most pertinent information. Like you, I was unable to locate any such information, in my admittedly not very compehensive search.

In any event, none of the examples that you give, soli, could remotely be considered to be "slander" in either a legal or moral sense. And certainly nothing in that speech (or anything else that he did or said) would justify branding him as a traitor.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:23 am 
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I wouldn’t go so far as to call Kerry a traitor, but I can find ample things to criticise about the claims that he made about Vietnam.

Solicitr is correct that there is a difference between simply opposing the war, and actually condemning men that he served with as war criminals. This is exacerbated by the fact that Kerry’s claims about his own service haven’t always stood up to scrutiny. Finally, there’s the fact that he ran heavily on his war record, which pulled all of this to the forefront.

Certainly some of the attacks made against Kerry were false. But he was still a weak candidate with a record that left him wide open to attack.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:26 am 
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Kerry was a weak candidate, period. So was Gore for that matter. It was as if the Dems had agreed behind the scenes to lose a couple elections.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:37 am 
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Kerry was a weak candidate, no question. But the attacks on him were and are disgusting. And Lord M, I'm sorry to say it, but the atrocities that were committed that Kerry mentioned are a documented fact. It is not something that we as Americans should shy away from. It is something that we should face up to to make sure that it never happens again.

Unfortunately, to some extent it has.

Edited to add: I take great pride in being an American, and I desperately want my country to live up to its lofty ideals.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:58 am 
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Gore wasn't as weak as Kerry, but he made a critical miscalculation, I think, by distancing himself too much from Bill Clinton. If Bill pulls in a few more votes in Florida for Al the ballot debacle there never matters.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:00 am 
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Voronwë wrote:
take great pride in being an American, and I desperately want my country to live up to its lofty ideals.


I strongly agree with this sentiment.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 6:17 am 
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Then there's this:

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In a piece [John McCain] wrote for the May 14, 1973 issue of U.S. News & World Report, the POW-turned-senator charged that testimony by Kerry and others before J. William Fulbright's Senate Foreign Relations Committee was "the most effective propaganda [my North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us."


It was years before McCain would even speak to Kerry.

And, Vor, I would dispute your assertion that "the atrocities that were committed that Kerry mentioned are a documented fact." In fact the veracity of the Winter Soldier claims has been hotly disputed ever since: and in any event, Kerry as a lawyer should have known better than to offer hearsay.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 6:45 am 
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I don’t doubt that war crimes were committed by the soldiers of the United States and its allies in Vietnam. I was under the mistaken impression, though, that he had made more specific claims about the men he was involved with personally than he actually did. Reading the testimony in full, I’ve found that not to be the case (even if some of the claims he alluded to were false). My concerns about his discussion of his own service or using it in his campaign still stand, though.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:40 am 
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I just remembered that I’d been meaning to comment on this...

Jnyusa wrote:
Kerry was a weak candidate, period. So was Gore for that matter.


I’m not sure if it’s fair to call Al Gore a ‘weak candidate’. He actually has a fairly impressive list of electoral achievements.

For a start, winning a Republican-held open Senate seat in Tennessee in 1984. In a bad electoral year for the Democrats, and an abysmal one for them in the south (it was the election where they lost the Deep South once and for all, and they lost eight house seats there) he managed to win a decisive victory in an important and quite conservative southern swing state. Neither John Kerry nor Barack Obama won their Senate seat in such adverse circumstances.

His performance in the 2000 Presidential election wasn’t too bad, either. He came within a few thousand votes of winning the White House for the Democrats for the third time in a row (and you all know how rare it is for one party to win three consecutive Presidential elections). Not only that, he did in while the political climate still strongly favoured the Republicans – they continued to hold both houses of Congress, for example. He came within a percentage point of winning a higher proportion of the popular vote than Bill Clinton ever did, and actually won over three million more votes in 2000 than Clinton did in 1996.

He was, if anything, very unlucky.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:30 pm 
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In fact the casualty rates were slighly higher for whites because of disproportionate white representation as pilots and junior infantry officers, the billets with the highest casualty rates.


There were still jokes in my day about that: What's the life expectancy of a 2nd Lieutenant assigned as a forward observer? answer: About 3 seconds.

Explanation- a forward observer is an Infantry officer (usually of the lowest rank, least experienced sort) who goes out ahead and observes the enemy and calls down an airstrike or artillery on their position. With the radios they had back then, if they were on the ball, it took only about 3 seconds for the enemy to triangulate thier position and adjust artillery to blast the place the observer radioed from. One had to radio in the coordinates and run, basically.

Or maybe it was 10 seconds. I forget, its' been a while.... Some outrageously small amount of time, anyway.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:56 pm 
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My eighth-grade English teacher had been a 2nd lieutenant in Viet Nam, and I remember him telling us exactly how unlikely a thing it was that he was standing in our classroom. The war was still going on then, and he got into trouble with some parents for failing to glorify it.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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